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  • Writer's pictureColin Eveleigh

Hello to All That!


"Nearly didn't come tonight! I had unexpected calls from friends just at the last moment, and I have cooked as well ~ no time to eat it ~ I had the perfect excuse!” 

And you’re here anyway!! 

It’s good to be there mindfully for friends, especially when as was shared, they might not think of you as being the first person to turn to for help. Makes you feel good and I'm sure it's much appreciated by your friends even if you feel you didn't help much. You listened mindfully, which is very helpful. You were there.

It’s great to be able to come to the online mindful meetings as well. Your presence is much appreciated here too, especially as the numbers have been a bit low over the past couple of weeks and generally the trend is downward. Not sure if that's a temporary dip or a reflection of the plight we are all in at present ~ does it mean things are improving or getting worse! Probably just means we have more important things to do or more pressing things are on our minds. Who knows? I do know you would be here if you could and will always be in spirit if not in presence. And I still have stuff to write about from the sharing there is.

It’s interesting to notice how the mind is always looking for excuses or a way to avoid things. Mine included. The one that often comes to mind for me before each meeting is the thought that I won’t have anything to share ~ who am I kidding!? If you couldn’t come last night, we missed you a lot and please don’t take any of these reflections personally…. and again, who am I kidding? We always take things personally ~ it's what we do!

Talking of avoidance, as someone else had noticed, it's hard to avoid the fact that generally speaking in the present circumstances with us all going through a similar shared and very stressful experience ~ some incredibly more stressful than others ~ some people are behaving in a surprisingly more kind, caring and neighbourly way (some of the time anyway). Sometimes there is very welcome spontaneous mutually supportive social chit-chat, gossip and general friendly conversation and if you stay at the correct distance and remain mindful (I mean alert) you may notice how an ordinary topic can suddenly and unexpectedly 'swing' towards something more serious or perhaps more personal. I expect it was there all along biding its time to be introduced. And if we watch the mind, when 'hit' by these surprising swings, we can see just how defensive and apt to take things personally according to the SELF we are. "What about me and my serious and personal issues.... or just what about me?!"

In this moment, a train passes by in the background and I mindfully picture the people on board ~ if there are any ~ and I wonder who they are, where they’ve been and how they’re feeling just now…. And as was shared, the SELF holds sway in different ways, when for example someone thinks they have the right to demand that we should do what they want us to. It may suit their needs but not be considerate of us and our needs and wishes at all. This can make us angry and make us feel as if we are being dictated to and put upon. How to tell them how we feel in a reasonable and non-aggressive way? Face to face or remotely, we pause as best we can and consider others before opening our mouths or pressing the ‘send’ button. Sitting with the feelings. Being reasonable. No point in upsetting or losing a friend or causing discord with long-term colleagues or neighbours. Fingers crossed mindfully.

We are clearly deeply affected by any threats to or feelings of encroachment on our personal space and boundaries ~ our territory ~ these emotions are firmly embeddedSeeking amicable ways to resolve these issues and finding happy-medium solutions if they unfold for us is a great relief. It’s certainly helpful when at least one party is mindful, and can listen to and set aside the SELF whilst being aware of more than just the demands that so strongly feel as though they are there pushing against us.

Who breaks the rules? Do you? Nah, not me! From the sharing tonight, to a greater or lesser extent, it looks as if we all do. Especially when it comes to trying to take care of and help our loved ones ~ child or adult. It is instinctive (ring a bell?) and as long as safety for all concerned is number ten I mean one, shouldn’t that be alright? The sheer joy of helping, reducing or easing suffering, giving respite or facilitating some freedom, space and by our presence creating a sense of well-being, is priceless (unless of course you’re Mum and unexpectedly have to pay for bike repairs as well!). Don’t get caught breaking the rules though.... Made an exception for yourself? Is there a difference between shame and shaming? Do politics and mindfulness mix? This sharing certainly made me see things differently in several ways. Many things to sit with.

And in any case, when we do move about outside the household, basic (I mean really basic) things we took for granted before, like being able to relieve oneself when necessary when out for a walk or on a (short) trip, now take on a whole new aspect and dimension. The trip itself might not be important or essential but the bodily functions will soon let you know there is a necessity.Toilets! Who knew?! We can be mindful of them but we desperately need them too. Something else to sit with. Pass the paper!  Toilet humour. (Please forgive my naughty child, he’s always looking for openings just like that).

It’s nice to be nice. For instance, as shared, surprising and delighting others who may begin to see you in a different light. Doing something extraordinary or weird like cheering, clapping and waving at them when it’s not even Thursday! They are doing something special and meaningful to them. That's why you're doing it. You might feel like an idiot, but hey, they really appreciate your support and thoughtfulness in being there for them. It’s nice. And there are those everyday seemingly insurmountable ongoing problems that always crop up when you least expect them…. or just won't go away. You leave them alone and you go back and do all that problem solving again and again with a fresh eye and brain and…. as if by magic, the problems dissolve or are resolved. Wonderful! Now I can get on with the next thing…. 

And if we’re mindful ~ before moving on to the next thing ~ we stay long enough to savour and appreciate the understanding and joy of resolution and we bathe in that moment! It doesn’t last long…. so make the most of it. And some things may never be resolved.

Like putting off attending meetings and get-togethers, or demoting them ~ we can easily surrender to reasons for not getting on with or completing problems and projects, jobs and tasks too. Even things we love to do and can be very good at. Of course, procrastination is a defence…. if we put things off; don’t do things, we can’t fail or we can’t be disliked or rejected or ridiculed or any one of a number of threats to the SELF the mind may consciously or unconsciously warn us against. Hello to all that! And here we go anyway. Let's do it! Let’s be mindful of the fears we can see and feel and let them be just as they are. They will pass. As one person put it, anticipating and putting off getting on with things can be like standing on the edge of a very inviting pool. Not sure what it’s going to be like when you’re in, but AAAh! the satisfaction of ultimately being immersed and floating peacefully in that lovely warm hugging water. It’s never as bad or as impossible as we think it will be. Usually!!

See you on the edge and in the pool next time.

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